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At a glance

Country of Origin: Italy
Region of Origin: Piedmont
Typical Product: Red
Structure: Medium
Climate: Warm Days, Cool Evenings
Soil Type: Calcareous/Clay Loam
Serving Temp: 57 - 61F
Ageability: 1 to 3
Sauces to Pair:
Meals to Pair:
Other Names*:


Dolcetto, the 'little sweet one' in Italian, is an Italian wine Varietal from the Piedmont region of Italy.  It's earliest documented references are in the late 16th century however several sources put its origins back as far as 12th century although there is no real evidence to support this theory.  Italian emigrants first brought Dolcetto to California in the mid 1800's and it has remained on the periphery of the wine industry in the US.

Dolcetto is most often relegated to 2nd tier status in Piedmont because of the preference for the two flagship grapes of the region, Nebbiolo and Barbera.  Nebbiolo particularly demands the best conditions because it is a very difficult Varietal with which to produce quality fruit.  Dolcetto usually gets the less favorable locations.  Not surprisingly, less favorable growing sites usually produces less interesting wines.  It is easy to grow and ripens up to four weeks earlier than the other two, which allows growers to harvest it without getting in the way of the two more favored Varietals.  Dolcetto's ease of cultivation and lighter structure also contribute to its reputation as an easy drinking but less interesting Varietal.  It's not a particularly spectacular food wine but can be a decent companion to food with lighter tomato based sauces. However, when its character is embraced, it produces a delightful, lighter bodied red wine that is perfect for just sitting and drinking.  It quickly fades after vintage so it should be enjoyed young, no more that 3 years after vintage.  Dolcetto fruit is quite dark in color with a fair amount of tannin, which can lead to some misunderstandings about the character of the wine.  Because the wine is lighter in structure, it's usually left in contact with the skins for a shorter amount of time than other varietals.  If left on the skins for too long, the tannins overwhelm the lighter tasting juice throwing the wine out of balance.

Dolcetto is another one of those Varietals that is purported to go by several names in the US.  Charbono is often sited as another name for Dolcetto but recent DNA evidence has found that Dolcetto and Charbono are actually different strains.  However, because of the historical confusion, there are likely a large number of vines in the US that are misidentified.

As with most lighter red wines, Dolcetto should be served slightly cooler than the "big" reds like Cab.  Typically just over cellar temperature is a good rule of thumb, or about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not try and create a great wine by aging Dolcetto.  It won't work.  There is not enough acid or tannins to allow for extended bottle aging.  Anything over 3 years and your Dolcetto will be fading into oblivion.
* used in California

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Name Vintage Year Price Tasting Comments
2006  $28.00   
Callaway Vineyard
2008  $28.00  Special Selection 
0000  $40.00  Dolcetto di Nonno 
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